Day 22

God Promises His Presence

from the reading plan

Genesis 12:1-7, Genesis 17:1-8, Genesis 26:1-6, Genesis 26:23-24, Genesis 28:10-22, Genesis 32:24-30, Genesis 35:9-12, Acts 3:25

In 2020, most states implemented a quarantine to circumvent the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over most of that year and some of the next, we were absent from one another physically or had the presence of our faces covered by masks.

It made me consider what it’s like to miss someone’s presence. Those months of social distancing reminded me of what our relationship with Christ is like. As long as we are home in our bodies, we’re away from His bodily presence (2Corinthians 5:8). Because Jesus has ascended to heaven, we can only see Him through the eyes of faith. In fact, the whole Christian life is characterized by faith like that of Abraham and his descendants: a faith that longs for, waits for, and looks forward to what we can’t see right now. For now, we only see Christ through a glass darkly, as if we’re chatting through a Zoom call, but one day we’ll see Him face to face (1Corinthians 13:12).

And yet, even though Christ’s presence is mediated now by the Spirit, we can still experience His presence daily. From the call of Abram (Genesis 12) to our inclusion as Christ’s spiritual descendants (Acts 3:25), God’s promises to His people have been marked by His presence. God’s presence with us through His Word and Spirit confirms His covenant commitment to us (Genesis 12:2–3, 17:2,4, 26:3–4). His presence with us also reveals our identity as His children (Genesis 12:7, 17:5,7, 26:24, 28:13). Our Savior says to us as He did to Isaac, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (Genesis 26:24, emphasis added). He comforts us as He did Jacob: “Look, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go…I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (Genesis 28:15, emphasis added).

Christ is a faithful friend, so His presence doesn’t falter. At times, His presence may not feel like comfort; sometimes it will feel as though we’re wrestling with Him, and sometimes we may feel wounded (see Genesis 32:22–32). We may see God’s face and yet be spared (v.30), but one thing is for certain: we cannot experience His presence and stay the same. When we share a rich personal connection with God, we emerge changed.

So as I think about how I missed and longed for the presence of my friends, I’m giving thanks for the presence of my God. May our days be marked by His present guidance and a longing to see His gracious and transforming face.

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